Admittedly, you’ll probably feel like an idiot when learning this move. You’ll fall on your ass in the bottom position and likely lose your balance repeatedly. You won’t even be able to get all the way down into a full squat at first. We can only urge you, however, to not give up: Those who master this exercise have a tremendous weapon in their leg-training arsenal, and it doesn’t require a lick of equipment.
Main Areas Targeted: Quads, hamstrings, glutes
Strengths: Sure, this is more about dynamic performance than pure muscle building, but no matter. Consider this the functional cousin of No. 9 above and remember: The more functional you are, the better you’ll be at mastering any exercise or physical activity. You may find that your quads burn deep for days after you first try the pistol squat, which is a sure sign that you’ve been shortchanging your range of motion on traditional leg exercises for years.
How-To: Begin in a standing position. Extend one leg straight out in front of you, balancing on your other foot. From here, squat all the way down by lowering your hips and glutes straight toward the floor, bending your knee until your working thigh is below parallel. At the bottom, your nonworking leg and arms will be out in front of you for balance with your planted foot flat on the floor. Drive through that heel to return to a standing position, making sure to never let that heel come up as you rep.
The exercises we don’t like doing are often the most effective. I perform these non-dominant side first, and let that dictate the number of reps I do on my dominant leg. It’s a great way to even out any asymmetries.